Both sides forced to settle for a share of the spoils...Blackpool ended a recent five-game losing run as they drew 1-1 against 10-man Aston Villa at Bloomfield Road
A lively, end-to-end opening to the game saw Gabriel Agbonlahor finish well to put the visitors in front early on, only for Elliot Grandin to equalise four minutes later.
The hosts pushed hard for a winner after the break and received a boost when Jean Makoun was sent off late on, but Gerard Houllier’s side held on to secure a share of the spoils.
The result means both sides stay closely locked together in the bottom half, with Villa one point clear of Ian Holloway’s side, who have a game in hand in 15th place.
In an attempt to freshen his side up, Holloway made four alterations to his side after their 5-3 defeat to Everton, one of which saw goalkeeper Richard Kingson come in for the injured Paul Rachubka.
Villa made two changes from their 2-2 draw with Fulham as Carlos Cuellar and Nigel Reo-Coker came in for James Collins and Stiliyan Petrov.
New signing Michael Bradley had to settle for a place on the bench as England trio Stewart Downing, Darren Bent and Ashley Young all started in an attacking line-up after their exploits against Denmark.
Goals have been a regular occurrence in Blackpool matches this season and it took just 10 minutes for the deadlock to be broken in this one.
A quick counter-attack saw Makoun’s pass give Bent the chance to play through strike partner Agbonlahor, who showed excellent composure to round Kingson and squeeze his shot inside the posts and past the sprawling attempt to block from Ian Evatt on the line.
However, it took just four minutes for the home side to level. Charlie Adam whipped in one of his trademark corner kicks and Grandin rose highest at the near post to divert a header past Brad Friedel.
Buoyed by their equaliser, the hosts were almost ahead moments later. Marlon Harewood curled an accurate cross and another near post header, this time from Luke Varney, fell just wide of the post.
An end-to-end start to the match continued with Villa creating an excellent opportunity to re-take the lead on 18 minutes. Craig Cathcart lost the ball in midfield and allowed Downing to be played through on goal, but Kingson made an excellent save with his feet to keep the scores level.
Downing was even closer on the half hour mark as he struck the woodwork. Blackpool failed to effectively clear a free-kick and the midfielder hit an impressive curling left-footed effort which clipped the post on its way wide.
If Villa had perhaps shaded the opening period, the second half was the other way round as the Seasiders battled in an attempt to secure all three points.
A nice passing move saw DJ Campbell get to the byline, cross deep for Adam who knocked the ball down into Harewood’s path, but the striker’s effort was over the bar.
Moments later, substitute Jason Puncheon volleyed just wide of the post after Friedel thought he had punched away to relative safety.
Makoun got his marching orders on 70 minutes when he flew into a challenge on Campbell with two feet. Although he didn’t make a huge amount of contact with the man, it would be hard to argue against his dismissal.
The numerical advantage resulted in another surge from Blackpool, with Puncheon having a good effort blocked, with the rebound falling to fellow sub Matt Phillips, who only narrowly missed the target.
Home pressure continued, but the visitors held firm and almost stole all three points in stoppage time as they had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Howard Webb after Young was felled under pressure from Alex Baptiste.